"I have loved thee with an everlasting love." (Jeremiah 31:3) "Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us." (Romans 5:5)
What can be compared unto the love of God? Who can begin to describe? Who can read its height? Who can fathom its depth, encompass its breadth, or measure its length? Who can tell its power? Who can conceive its vehemence? Who can describe its sweetness? Who can tell its value? It is a topless mountain; a bottomless ocean; a boundless sea; an endless river; an intense fire; a peaceful influence; a divine perfection; an invaluable gem; a field to walk in; a sea to swim in; a bed to rest on; it is free, it cannot be purchased; it is irresistible, it cannot be obstructed; it is fixed, it cannot be altered; its objects cannot be increased nor diminished; those who are in it, cannot get out; and those who are out, cannot get in; it is subject to no change, but is the same from everlasting to everlasting. The importance to us is that it has no regard to badness or goodness in its objects, and it is manifest by Scripture and experience, that the chief of sinners are its objects; and, towards, and in reference to them, it is manifested as the love of a father, the love of a brother, the love of a husband, the love of a prophet, the love of a priest, the love of a king, the love of a lord, the love of a physician, the love of a shepherd, the love of a Creator. And if there be any other love, it is to be found in the love of God, in the highest perfection; yea, all these loves do but faintly shadow forth the one love of Triune Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, whose love is but one, and that one unspeakable love is directed to poor, guilty, ill and hell deserving sinners, who, in themselves, are poor bankrupts; black as hell, undeserving as devils, loathsome as sin. Some of the leading acts of this love are that of choosing in Christ from all eternity, and ordaining to eternal life; blessing with all spiritual blessings, redeeming by absolute power and precious blood, working out a righteousness, called, by way of dignity and distinction, the righteousness of God; in that of calling with an heavenly and holy calling, giving spiritual life, preserving the life given, clothing, feeding, strengthening, and, finally, giving heaven and all its joys, blessednesses, and glories. In this life my soul is witness of the sweetness-the preciousness of that love as communicated to, or shed abroad in the heart; for I find that it fortifies the soul against evil and trouble, temptation and persecution; it softens the hardness of heart; it makes sin hateful; it removes the pain that transgression produces; it enables the soul to wage war with the devil, and assures to him the conquest; it clears the spirits to that degree that the soul forgets his poverty; it cheers the spiritual sight, that he can look back into eternity past, and be present at the great council of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; it enables to look forward through all the clouds which hang between now and eternity to come; it gives perfect freedom at the throne of grace; it makes the greatest familiarity with the God of heaven; yea, it raises the soul so high in power, love, joy, confidence, and peace, that be is not ashamed to call God his father, Christ his brother, the Holy Ghost his familiar acquaintance. He can ask for what he knows he shall get, and that is constant care, enough to eat, to drink, to wear, of temporals and spirituals, and an eternal home with his God.
"0, for this love, let rocks and hills,
Their lasting silence break,
And all the ransomed saints of God,
Jehovah's praises speak."
This love is sovereign, both as it respects the choice of objects, and its manifestations in this time state, but equal in proportion to every object. Everyone of the children are loved distinctly with all the love of God; so that if I were the only object of this love, I could not be loved more than I now am.
With regard to its clear shining and sweet manifestations, there are evident degrees according to the sovereign pleasure of the infinite lover; and with regard to its acts, they are productive of joy and sorrow, but in the end all joy. Whom he loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth; so that in reality the chastening rod, which is sometimes very heavy, is as much an act of love as manifest smiles; and if the term anger is applicable to the Lord's conduct towards his sons, it might be more fully expressed by love-anger; for it is set forth in the records of truth that he chasteneth us for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness, not, that he might vent his vindictive anger against them; for in respect to his dear children, God is love; and, however, contrary it may appear to us, all his conduct towards them is love conduct.
Reader, what dost thou know about this love of God? Some
poor soul is saying, I fear I know nothing, because I feel I am so vile, so sinful, so cold, so unmoved by the expression of his love. To feel our vileness is an act of love; to mourn our depravity is a consequence of interest in the love of God; and, although doubts themselves arise from the flesh, the feelings which give rise to these doubts and fears in the children could not exist were it not for the love of God, exerted in showing them what poor vile things they are in themselves; and this is the constant means the Lord is pleased to use to lead us to himself. Self loathing is no mark of reprobation. Remember the poor publican, and the boasting pharisee. We do
not loathe what we neither see, nor feel, nor hate. To loathe and hate our sinful selves, then, is by virtue of the Holy Ghost, producing in us principles of holiness, life, and love; also, from his showing up to our view what we are in comparison of what the Lord is, and our experience testifies that the Lord is our choice, and we do not choose, but from the great cause of his having first chosen us.
May God, the Holy Ghost, shed this love abroad in our hearts.